A comparison between the acute effects of different recovery techniques on the mood states of university-level rugby players
Van der Bijl, Erika
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Rugby union training and match-play are physiologically and psychologically very demanding and the execution of post-exercise recovery techniques in players" training regimes are therefore necessary to aid in the physiological and psychological restoration of athletes‟ training and performance abilities. However, despite numerous research findings with regard to the efficiency of especially cold water immersion (CWI), contrast water therapy (CWT) and passive recovery (PAR) on the physiological recovery of athletes post-exercise, only a limited number of researchers have examined the possible benefits of these recovery techniques on the psychological recovery of athletes. Consequently, the objectives of this study were firstly to determine the difference between the acute effects of CWI and PAR on the mood states (anger, confusion, depression, fatigue, tension and vigour) and the energy index of university-level rugby players post-exercise, and secondly to determine the difference between the acute effects of CWT and PAR on the mood states and the energy index of university-level rugby players post-exercise. Twenty-three under/21 university-level rugby players (age 20.1 ± 0.41) of a South African university club voluntarily participated in this study. The players were randomly divided into a control group (PAR) and an experimental group (CWI or CWT). Participants completed the Stellenbosch Mood Scale (STEMS) questionnaire over four time periods: during the morning (baseline); before completion of a high-intensity anaerobic training session (pre-anaerobic); after completion of a high-intensity anaerobic training session of 15 minutes (post-anaerobic) and after completion of a 20-minute recovery session (post-recovery). Blood lactate measurements were also taken 3 minutes after completion of the anaerobic session. To test the first objective, the experimental group completed 20 minutes of CWI, whereas the control group recovered passively for the same time period. For the purpose of the second objective, the experimental group completed 20 minutes of CWT, whereas the control group recovered passively for the same time period. Although the dependent t-test and effect size results of the first study showed that the experimental group (CWI) experienced no significant changes from the pre-anaerobic to post-recovery time periods for any of the STEMS subscale values or the energy index, the control group's (PAR) confusion, depression and tension subscale values decreased significantly (p < 0.05) from the pre-anaerobic to the post-recovery time periods. Despite these changes, the one-way between groups‟ analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) revealed no significant differences, except for the vigour subscale, which obtained a medium practical significant increase [Effect size (ES) = 0.65)] for the experimental compared to the control group when the pre-anaerobic and post-recovery changes in the STEMS subscale and energy index values between groups were compared. The dependent t-test and effect size results of the second study indicated that neither the experimental (CWT) nor the control group (PAR) experienced significant changes from pre-anaerobic to post-recovery time periods for any of the STEMS subscale or energy index values. However, the ANCOVA revealed that the experimental group showed a statistically significant higher value for the vigour subscale (p = 0.05) when compared to the control group. In addition, for vigour, the experimental group recorded a large practically significant higher value (ES = 0.92) for vigour as well as a large practically significant lower value for fatigue (ES = 0.88) compared to the control group. To the researchers' knowledge, this was the first study to compare the efficacy of CWI, CWT and PAR on the recovery of athletes‟ STEMS-derived mood states. Previous studies mainly focused on perceived fatigue, muscle soreness, Profile of Mood States- (POMS-) derived mood states and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) when investigating psychological recovery in athletes. However, despite the uniqueness of this study, results showed that when compared to PAR, CWI and CWT did not aid more in the acute psychological recovery of university-level rugby players‟ mood states. Vigour was the only mood state subscale for which both the CWI and CWT groups showed a practical or statistically significant higher value compared to the PAR group, while fatigue obtained a higher practical significant value for only CWT when compared to PAR. Therefore, although the study results support the use of CWI and CWT to alleviate vigour and fatigue post-exercise when compared to PAR, further research is required to gain understanding into the psychological mechanisms of both CWT and PAR, with an emphasis on knowledge and information in recovery of mood disturbances after exercise.
- Health Sciences